Saturday, September 2, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Consensus eludes ISC on residuary powers
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Sept 1 — The Standing Committee of the Inter-State Council (ISC) today failed to reach a consensus on the issue of placing residuary powers of legislation other than taxation in the concurrent list but decided to refer it to the full meeting of the council.

“There was divergence of opinion and no consensus could be reached on the issue as recommended by the Sarkaria Commission”, Home Minister L.K. Advani told newspersons after a day-long eighth meeting of the Standing Committee.

He said the meeting finally decided that the issue of residuary powers of legislation be placed before the full council where the views of Chief Ministers would be available and a final decision taken.

Quoting a speech of Dr B.R. Ambedkar during the debate in the Constituent Assembly on why the Constitution did not contain the word “federal” and instead used “union”, Mr Advani said the Centre was keen on devolution of powers to the states but at the same time “we must be cautious that the Centre is not weakened”.

In another major decision, the committee reached a consensus on amending the Constitution to make it mandatory for the Centre to “consult” the states on the appointment of Governors.

However, Mr Advani clarified that the Centre would have the overriding powers while deciding on who should be chosen for gubernatorial posts.

The committee also decided to refer the issue of the revival of Upper Houses in the states to the ISC for evolving a consensus, Mr Advani said, adding that the legislature of Tamil Nadu and Punjab had forcefully pleaded for the creation of bicameral legislature in their states.

He said both states had earlier opted for abolition of Upper Chamber and later on they passed resolutions demanding the revival of the same. In view of this, the meeting felt that the creation or abolition of legislation councils should not be contingent upon which party was in power and there should be uniformity on the issue, he said.

The committee also decided to adopt appropriate safeguards by amending the Commissions of Enquiry Act so that the Centre consulted the states before appointing an inquiry committee against a state minister.

Mr Advani said differing views were also expressed on strengthening state armed police and the mechanism of the deployment of armed forces in the states in aid of the civil authorities. It was decided that all four recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission on public order duty should be referred to an ISC sub-committee chaired by Defence Minister George Fernandes which was already examining the issue of emergency powers, including the imposition of President’s rule, in the states.

The committee deferred a decision on the demand of the states for running broadcasting networks as the Centre raised objections, saying that they should not become propaganda machineries of the states.

Besides Defence Minister George Fernandes, External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh and Law Minister Arun Jaitley, Chief Minister of Punjab and Assam Parkash Singh Badal and Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, respectively, were present at the meeting. Other states were represented by their ministers or senior officials.

In respect of the All-India Services, the committee came to a general consensus on the procedure for deputation of such officers and maintenance of a system where these officers could function freely and independently.

Upholding a demand of the states for enhancing the royalty rates in respect of mines and minerals, the committee favoured the conduct of such a procedure once in three years as against the earlier practice of once in four years.

It was also explained that the government was moving to the system of revision of royalty rates on ad valorem basis to meet the demands of the states, Mr Advani said.

Regarding the three-language formula, Mr Advani said that the committee agreed that the Sarkaria Commission’s recommendations on the issue should be accepted in principle. However, Tamil Nadu voiced its reservation on it.

It was also decided that all five zonal councils would now function under the secretariat of the ISC, Mr Advani said adding that meeting of the South Zone Council, West Zone Council and Central Zone Council, which were overdue, would be held in Pondicherry, Goa and Bhopal, respectively, in October.

With this, the committee had disposed of 234 out of 247 recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission on Centre-State relations and only 13 relating to emergency power of the Centre were still to be decided as they were being examined by the Fernandes’s committee.Back


Badal for scrapping Concurrent List
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Sept 1 — The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today demanded complete restructuring of the Constitution to ensure decentralisation of powers to the states, appointment of Governors with the consent of the respective state Chief Ministers and wresting of executive control over officers of the All-India Services with the state governments.

Speaking at the eighth meeting of the Standing Committee of the Inter-State Council at the Vigyan Bhavan here, Mr Badal emphasised the need to bring the Constitution in tune with the modern times as well as with the prevalent psychological and political climate in the country.

“A federal impulse is sweeping through the length and breadth of the country, opening up new possibilities for socio-economic development. This augurs well for the process of emotional integration of our people and for the growth of the spirit of nationalism,” he said, adding that “the decision of the Centre to set up a national commission to review the working of the Constitution is a most welcome development.”

Making a strong plea for the decentralisation of powers, he demanded that the Concurrent List should be scrapped and residuary powers in all spheres should vest with the States.

“The powers of Parliament to legislate on matters contained in the States List was contrary to the spirit of federalism,” he said and argued that the state legislature should have the powers to repeal an Act concerning the states passed by Parliament.

The supremacy of the Centre should be confined only to the four key areas of national significance — defence, communications, foreign affairs and currency — he said.

On the appointment of the Governors, the Punjab Chief Minister wanted a change in the mode of appointment to make it “prerequisite” for the Centre to take the consent of the Chief Minister.

“We believe that the Governor should act as the constitutional head of the state rather than as a representative of the Centre,” he said.

On the sphere of education, Mr Badal said though the co-ordination between the Centre and the states should remain a desired goal, this goal should remain subject to the freedom of the states to evolve and implement educational policies in tune with the peculiar requirements of the states concerned.

“Education is a state subject and any attempt to impose an artificial uniformity is bound to boomerang on us. However, we are in favour of a national consensus on approach to education with a view to strengthening the nationalist impulse and achieving national goals,” he said.

On the question of the deployment of the central forces in a particular state, he said the cost for this deployment should be borne by the Centre because protecting the state against external aggression and internal disturbances was the duty of the Union.

Describing the All-India Services as an important ingredient in national development, Mr Badal demanded that the executive control over officers of the All-India Services should rest with the state governments.

He also demanded that as far as possible, members of the All-India Services should be allotted to their parent States since they were conversant with the problems and conditions of their states and were better equipped to respond to the needs of people.

He also emphasised that the proceeding of the Inter-State Council might have to be reviewed in the light of the report of the National Commission to review the Constitution.Back


Vajpayee visit

NEW DELHI, Sept 1 (UNI) — Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, who is leaving for Washington on September 7 on an 11-day visit, will return here on September 19. The Prime Minister was earlier scheduled to leave on September 5 but delayed his departure by two days on medical advice. Earlier, he was to halt in Amsterdam for a day on his return journey, but now would have a stopover in Frankfurt on September 18. The San Francisco leg of the tour has already been cancelled.

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